Here’s hoping it’s an interesting as 2022… Here’s a look back at some of the highlights of 2022; 12 months in 12 images; podcasts, talks, people, bicycles, books, films… and cycling, of course.
Beryl Burton was born in Yorkshire on May 12th 1937. Her upbringing was tough. Her school report described her as a ‘stubborn little mule. At the age of 10 she spent 9 months in hospital and doctors told her never to ride a bike uphill. She went on to become one of Britain’s greatest ever athletes – of either sex – and a cycling world champion seven times over. She was the country’s ‘best all-rounder’ female cyclist for 25 consecutive years from 1959 to 1983. She died, cycling, a few days short of her 59th birthday in 1996. Jeremy Wilson – chief sports reporter for The Daily Telegraph – has written an awarding-winning book about the life of this cycling enigma who remains little known outside her home county or the world of cycle racing.
When I started this website back in 2008 (yes, getting on for 14 years ago…) I came to the whole endeavour as a naive touring cyclist. When I wrote ‘Crossing Europe…’ many people commented upon how they had enjoyed experiencing the cycling journey from southern England to southern Italy from the perspective of an inexperienced two-wheeled traveller who, quite frankly, didn’t know what he was doing for much of the time. That epitaph has become increasingly tenuous in the past decade as, inevitably, I have learnt what to do. I’m still learning but it would be disingenuous to continue to refer to myself as ‘naive’. Or rather it is in the world of cycle touring. I still consider myself to be very inexperienced in many other areas of cycling including the one that involves donning tight lycra and heading out for the day with minimal kit on a bicycle designed for speed…
…from Andrew, Reggie, Ronnie & Wanda.
After a mid-winter break of a few weeks whilst I was busy editing the four episodes of Le Grand Tour films, the podcast returns in the New Year and the first episode of 2023 – number 062 – will feature a fascinating interview with the journalist Jeremy Wilson. He has written an award-winning book – none other than the William Hill Sports Book of the Year 2022 – about the extraordinary life and cycling times of Beryl Burton. In the week before I spoke to Jeremy I spent many thoroughly enjoyable hours reading the book, making notes as I turned the pages in preparation for the interview. In this pre-podcast podcast post (OK, shameless publicity tease…) you can read what I jotted down. Those notes will hopefully whet your appetite for listening to episode 062 of The Cycling Europe Podcast which will be published on Sunday 1st January 2023. In the meantime… Happy Christmas!
Tonight the final episode of Le Grand Tour series of films is premiered on YouTube in all its glorious UHD beauty. It tells the story of my cycle from Andermatt, high in the Alps and close to the source of The Rhine to The Hook of Holland where the river pours out into the North Sea and where the two-month cycle returns to where it started at the start of July 2022. It was an epic journey of 4,700km on the bike plus another 700km on trains and this final part of the film is perhaps the most dramatic as it follows the course of The Rhine from the steep-sided gorges of Switzerland to the majestically meandering Rhine of the low countries.
A couple of weeks ago I mentioned that in mid-February I will be travelling to Tenerife for a few days of winter cycling. It won’t quite by ‘cycle-touring’ in the traditional sense, more a combination of travelling and then cycling whilst being based in the same place, a hotel in southern Tenerife. Although I still need to check all the details, I’ve been told that I will be able to hire a bike at the hotel and my trusty steeds – Wanda and Ronnie (and my rather rusty steed Reggie…) – will be left at home for the duration.
A few days ago I posted about the French site HomeCamper and the fact that they were looking for investment to develop their business. (It would be interesting to hear if anyone did actually invest in shares…) But WarmShowers remains the go-to accommodation option for many touring cyclists, with good reason. It’s free and is a great way of meeting local people with whom you automatically have a common interest; cycling. Well, a few minutes ago, an email has arrived from WarmShowers detailing some interesting developments that we can look forward to in 2023.